Since 2008, app store ratings and reviews have played a critical role in conversion and retention. But while all marketers and product owners recognize the importance of ratings and reviews, the benchmarks that equal “success” continue to shift.
Much of where mobile teams set their ratings goals depends on their starting point, and the opportunity cost of a star is huge. Moving a three-star app to four stars, for example, can lead to an 89% increase in conversion.
Similarly, ratings have real consequences on brand reputation. When we asked, consumers were clear that the lower the star rating, the less likely they’d be to download the app.
Alchemer Mobile (formerly Apptentive) recently conducted a study of 1,000 iOS and Android apps with 5,000+ active users, across over a billion app installs. Our research went deep into ratings and reviews averages by app category.
Read on to see the profile of the average app in 2021, and learn about why your app’s ratings and reviews are successful or underperforming based on industry averages.
2021 App Ratings and Reviews Benchmarks
Across the 1,000 apps included in our study, let’s first look at the average iOS app. The average iOS app has a star rating of 4.53, an average 131,598 star ratings, and an average 455 number of app store reviews. The Android app profile looks slightly different as the average app has a star rating of 4.05, an average 38,718 star ratings, and an average 2,586 app store reviews.
We should note that while macro averages are important, it’s challenging to compare apps across categories due to differences in consumer behavior, particularly when it comes to app store ratings. Comparing apps to others in their industry yields a more accurate picture of performance.
Apps across categories saw changes to their total distribution of star ratings in both app stores. Here is the 2020 star rating distribution across both iOS and Android, by app category.
Consumer behavior and expectation are at the heart of most cross-category ratings fluctuations. For example, consumers tend to be more satisfied brands in categories without a lot of singular competition, like Finance. People typically only are members of one bank, so while the marketplace is crowded, it’s hard for individuals to easily jump to competitors. Consumers also tend to let bias around current events influence their public ratings (more on why this is bad and how to get ahead of it), a common occurrence in Media and Entertainment.
For more detailed differences, see the 10 industry-specific chapters in our 2021 Mobile App Engagement Benchmark Report.
Below is the distribution of the average number of app store reviews in 2020, by app category.
In general, there have always been more reviews in Android than in iOS, mostly due to the demographic differences of their customer bases. Android users tend to be younger and much more likely to feel involved in the process. Because of this, they’re also typically more critical (e.g. give lower ratings and more critical reviews). And since the release of iOS 11, we’ve also seen a downturn in the number of iOS reviews as the rating process was simplified.
Ultimately, the average number of reviews in both iOS and Android haven’t fluctuated much year-over-year.
Regardless of how many reviews your app has received, making sense of the raw text can offer great insight into how your customers feel and why they feel that way. And it’s even more powerful when you can layer app review insights on top of customer emotion data from messages, surveys, and other in-app interactions.
2021 App Ratings and Reviews—Are You Set Up for Success?
The data tells us ratings and reviews continue to play a major role in your app’s growth long after consumers have found their way to your app store product page. They serve as social proof to indicate your app’s quality in an otherwise blind evaluation process. And in both app stores, review recency matters more than ever before, which means being able to identify and activate your fans is critical.
For more on improving your app’s ratings and reviews, check out our guide Mobile App Ratings and Reviews: Where to Start and How to Win.